Author: Brittany Winfrey
Everyone takes a break from their exercise routine. Whether it’s from being sick, a vacation, or just that life gets busy, taking long stretches off from the gym is bound to happen. It’s helpful to remember that it’s completely normal for your exercise consistency to ebb and flow throughout the course of your life. The most important thing is that you allow yourself to get back to the gym without dwelling on the past.
Still, getting back into a workout routine can seem more challenging than starting one for the first time. Rather than having “nowhere to go but up” like when you started working out the first time, it feels like you’re starting from a point of regression, and this can be frustrating. Here are some tips to ease this frustration and get you back into your workouts:
1. Give yourself grace
We all have setbacks. Nobody will have perfectly consistent gym attendance for their entire life. It’s important to be kind to yourself. Life happened, you missed workouts, this doesn’t mean you are “lazy” or a “slacker”. These negative words are not helpful. Instead, focus on the fact that you’re here now, ready to take the next step
Progress isn’t always linear. We all have peaks and valleys, and simply being more active than you were last week is progress. It can even be helpful to tell yourself how excited you are to be back at it and ready to get to work!
2. Don’t expect to be at the same level you were before
Many people hit the gym after a long break thinking that they can pick up right where they left off. Not only does the workout end up feeling really hard which can feel defeating, but it leaves you so sore that it takes far longer to recover, causing you to miss your next session. Overdoing it in the beginning can also increase your risk of injury. And, if you get injured, then you’ll find yourself spending more time out of the gym.
The best way to ease back into things is by cutting down on the duration and intensity of your workouts for the first several sessions back. You can start with just 10 minutes a day–the goal is just to get moving more.
As your body starts to adjust to exercise, slowly add more time and intensity each week. The key here is to let your body get adjusted to working out, not to crush every workout!
3. Help your body recover
While feeling sore after a workout is common, it isn’t a good indicator of whether you’ve had a good workout or not. If you’re feeling sore, it’s probably because you’re doing a new exercise or you haven’t trained in a while. If you’re getting back to the gym after a long break, you’ll most likely be feeling it the next day.
Soreness is your body adjusting to its new workload, and luckily, it won’t last forever. Once you get back into a regular routine, you will find yourself being able to work out with less of that muscle burn afterwards. To help recover faster, and get your back into your next workout feeling good, make sure that you properly warm up before exercising and cool down afterwards. It is also helpful to stretch in every session and employ tools such as foam rolling.
4. Try something new
When you decide to rejoin the gym, it can be helpful to reflect on why you left in the first place. It’s common to stop going because it has become a dreaded chore. If you hated the gym in general, this time around could be a good time to try something completely new. Getting back into the gym doesn’t necessarily have to be the actual gym. Try something different than what you were previously doing. In the past, maybe you didn’t find the right workout for you. Try a new boot camp, a spin class, get outside for a run, or hit a power yoga class.
When you choose movements that bring you joy and make you feel good, you’ll never want to quit exercising again. In fact, for many people, their exercise of choice becomes part of who they are.
5. Be accountable to someone
Often, we need to be accountable to someone (or something) other than ourselves to show up for that dreaded first (or second or third) workout. Increase your odds of success by enlisting help. Having a friend, work colleague, family member, or even personal trainer to work out with is a great way to boost motivation, hold each other accountable, and stick to your workout routine. It also adds a social aspect, which brings a little more fun back into working out.
After a hiatus away from the gym, it can be tempting to focus on what you were capable of doing in the past. Instead, focus on where you are now, be kind to yourself, and find the people and exercises that will motivate you to keep progressing forward.
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